Well, she did it. Again. Jessica and I always make it a point to praise the girls for their toughness when they fall or somehow hurt themselves. Well by that rational I think its fair to say that Jessica deserves the utmost respect for the incredible toughness and dedication she displayed today. I can’t really put into words how proud I am of her, or how much I appreciate all the sacrifices she continues to make for our family, but that certainly won’t stop me from trying. For the third time, Jessica has brought a child into this world, and for the second time in a row, she did it completely naturally without any drugs or pain killers. Of the five years we have been married, she has spent about four of them pregnant, meaning she has dedicated not only her whole life to our family, but her body as well. To say I’m thankful for this would be an insulting understatement, but I suppose its a start.
Before I get into the details of how our day went, I’m going to backtrack a few days to tell a funny story about Jessica’s baby shower, which was held by our next-door neighbor Cara on Saturday afternoon. Since Jessica and Amy were going to be there for several hours, I decided to take the girls out for a day of fun. We started off at the park, then we went to Alderwood Mall to play, shop, and walk around. After leaving the mall we went to lunch at Taco Time, and I specifically made sure to eat at the restaurant because I knew the girls would make a mess, and I also knew that some of the ladies at the baby shower would be coming over to our house afterwards and I didn’t want the house to be a mess.
After finishing lunch the girls and I headed home, and I’ve got to admit I was feeling proud of myself. I had just taken them on a 3 hour adventure and things went so smoothly. They weren’t even dirty so I didn’t have to rush them into the bathtub when we got home. Since no one else was home when we returned, I decided to put on an episode of Thomas the Train for the girls to watch so that I could spend 5-10 minutes finishing the chapter in my new book. As the old saying goes, ‘Silence is golden’, but whomever came up with that statement must not have had young kids, because little did I know that while I sat on the couch reading my book and thinking that the girls were quietly playing behind me, they were actually making an enormous mess.
A few minutes later Jessica walks in the door with several family members and friends, and immediately yells out my name with a panicked look on her face. I say “what?” and turn around to see that in the five minutes we’d been sitting there, Ava and Elise had dumped almost all the dirt out of a potted holiday plant we’d received as a gift all throughout the kitchen. It was everywhere! All over the dining table, the window sills, the chairs, the floor, etc. They were having a grand old time playing with all this dirt, and I was completely oblivious to it, even though I was only sitting 10 feet away. An of course I had to discover it right as a dozen women come walking in. It was such a classic Dad moment that I will probably never hear the end of. Apparently Jessica had just made a disclaimer saying that although the house was clean when she left for the shower, she couldn’t guarantee anything since the girls and I were home alone. Everyone got a huge kick out of it, but I was obviously pretty embarrassed. Oh well, it made for a funny story that will probably live on forever.
Now onto more important things. I’m going to try to recount everything that went on today with an appropriate level of detail. Jessica and I went to bed last night a little after 10:00, and although we both fell asleep quickly, she ended up waking up around 11:30 due to contractions. She didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of her 19 hour labor with Enzo Michael Pellegrini. She had semi-regular contractions for the next few hours, meaning she got very little sleep. I woke up at 3:30am and realized what was going on, so pretty soon I started timing her contractions. They were coming about every 10 minutes so our hopes were high that this would be the day.
Around 6:00am we went downstairs for coffee and breakfast, then a little later we decided to go for a walk. This had become a tradition for us when she is in labor so it seemed like the right thing to do. At this point Dana was on her way over to our house to watch the girls, but they (and Amy) were still asleep. What was supposed to be a short walk turned into a very long one (about 3 miles) but Jessica was feeling good and the movement made her contractions easier to deal with. By the time we returned home from our walk an hour later, Dana was waiting for us in the living room while playing with Elise.
At this point the contractions started slowing down and soon Jessica was feeling pretty bummed out. It was looking like another false alarm, and she wanted nothing more than to have this baby and be done with it. Luckily she had a regularly scheduled appointment this morning at 11:00, so even though things were starting to look a little grim, we decided to follow through with the appointment and see what the midwife had to say. Amy and Dana stayed home with the girls while I drove Jessica to her appointment. On the way there her contractions started getting more regular, so there was hope for us once again.
The birth center was very busy when we arrived, so we had to wait a bit before she could be seen. Once they checked her out they gave us the good news we were hoping to hear, which was that she was definitely in labor and today was our day. They also offered to break her water for her in order to speed things up, so Jessica gladly accepted. After that they told us to go get a bite to eat, and go for another walk. We followed their orders, but it didn’t take long after the water was broken for things to start speeding up quickly. By the time we finished lunch and walked down the block she was having contractions every 2-3 minutes, and they were getting more and more intense with each one.
At this point we called Amy and said you better get down here, so Dana was kind enough to load everyone up in the van and give her a ride. We didn’t want the girls to see Mommy in labor, so after dropping Amy off, Dana returned home with Ava and Elise for a fun day at home. Basically Jessica had labored for 12 hours before they broke her water, and then the real fun began. I’m just glad that Amy was able to be there all day with us because she was such a big help.
As many of you already know, this pregnancy has been pretty tough on Jessica, and unfortunately labor was no exception. Based on her experience with Elise, we thought we’d be delivering within about 3 hours, but that wasn’t the case. After breaking her water at 11:30am, Jessica went on a painful crusade that lasted another 7 hours before Enzo finally decided to make his appearance. Again, her toughness was remarkable. She later said that when you reach your mental breaking point its so difficult to keep going on, but she powered through it like a champ. The woman in the room next to us was screaming at the top of her lungs all day, and I’m certainly not judging her for this because I can only imagine what it feels like, but the difference between her and Jessica was like night and day. Even the midwives couldn’t believe how tough and strong she was. She doesn’t yell or scream at all; she has this incredible ability to internalize her pain and deal with it in ways that most people would be jealous of.
Long story short, Jessica powered through so many contractions before giving birth to our son Enzo at 6:19pm. Unlike her delivery with Elise, which was in water, Enzo was born in bed with Jessica on her side, with me helping the midwife by holding one of Jessica’s legs up while she commanded Jessica on when and how to push. Obviously this was a very emotional experience for all of us, but all I can say is that seeing your child come into the world is an experience that you’re extremely lucky to have, and one that you will never forget. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this 3 times now, and for that I will always be grateful. He ended up measuring in at 20″ in length and weighing exactly 8 pounds.
Although giving birth naturally is incredibly painful, the flip side to that coin is that she was back to normal almost immediately after giving birth. Watching her transform back into her normal self in such a short amount of time was truly amazing. At that point there are so many endorphins kicking in and so much adrenaline pumping through her veins that she actually seemed quite chipper and unaffected by what had just occurred. I could tell she was relieved to have it over with, and although I was having a hard time containing my own emotions, the fact that our family was now complete and such a major chapter in our lives was coming to a close was certainly not lost on me.
Luckily for us everything with Enzo was perfect, as it was for Jessica, so we only had to stay at the birth center for two hours after he was born, which is the legal requirement. Most of that time was spent making phone calls and sending text messages to our loved ones. We were all pretty hungry so Amy and I ran across the street to a Mexican restaurant to get some takeout. I had a bit of a scare while I was sitting there waiting for our food because I overheard the hostess saying that there was an ambulance outside taking someone from the birth center. I looked up and saw what she was talking about, then just about had a heart attack as I sprinted out the door and across the street to see what was going on. When I arrived they explained that nothing was wrong with Jessica or Enzo, and that the ambulance was there for the woman and child from the room next to us. Unfortunately things hadn’t gone as smoothly for them as it had for us and they needed some extra medical attention. Obviously I wasn’t happy to hear this, but at the same time I couldn’t help but feel a major sense of relief.
I want to send out a HUGE thank you to my amazing sister Dana for all her help today. She took the day off work to care for Ava and Elise throughout this whole experience and we are so grateful. You’ll never know how much we appreciate it. I also need to give my deepest thanks to Amy for everything she continues to do for us. This is a major transition for us and I seriously don’t know if we could do it all without her. In both of their cases I know that they are very happy to be able to do everything, but that doesn’t change how much it means to Jessica and I. We’re so lucky to have such an incredible family and support system.
I’ll never forget Ava’s reaction when we arrived home with Elise a year-and-a-half ago, and the same can be said for Ava and Elise’s reactions tonight when we got home with Enzo. The look on their faces was priceless. Elise just couldn’t get over the fact that there was a baby in our house, and both of them instantly gravitated to him. There is no question that both of the girls are going to have to adjust to having a baby in the house, but I know we’ll all be able to make that adjustment in no time. Jessica said multiple times this evening that even though this was a tough pregnancy and a tough labor, it was all more than worth it in the end. Seeing all three of our kids together in the same room at the same time was really special to me, and I couldn’t help but say to myself several times over “I have three children.” Even though you have all this time to prepare for it, there is something to be said for seeing them all together in the flesh for the first time.
As one would expect, Jessica was beyond exhausted by the time we got home, so as I write this, she and Enzo are fast asleep beside me. These next few days are going to be full of adjustments for everyone in our house, which again is why having Amy here is such a big help. It dawned on me this afternoon that this would probably be the last time I’m ever in a birthing room. I wouldn’t expect either of my daughters to want me in the room when they are giving birth, which I completely understand, so it was important to me that I really soak it all up and not take anything for granted. Having a child makes for a special day that you will never forget. These are the great days of your life, and its what you live for, so I couldn’t be more thankful to have been able to experience this three times over. Our family is complete now, and tomorrow we move onto the first page of another new and exciting chapter. Not only do I have three children that I love more than life itself, but I have the best wife in the world who is not only my spouse, but also my best friend, confidant, and motivator. I don’t know what more I could ask for, but I will always be thankful.
Laboring in the tub a couple hours before Enzo’s birth
Holding my son for the first time
Grandma Amy holding Enzo for the first time
Enzo getting weighed
Ready to go home
Meeting his sisters for the first time
Elise giving Enzo a kiss